Alien Dawn

Alien DawnThis is the part of the review where I would normally try to explain that it really wasn’t the absolutely worst movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been trying for over 6 months now to think of any movie that’s worse. There just has to be one, right? No. Really.

Alien Dawn is the absolutely worst movie of all time. It’s the worst movie ever created in all of history. There’s a good chance I could even add “or that could ever be,” but I’ll bet the writer/director of Alien Dawn, Neil Johnson, would take it as a challenge to create a part 2. It’s not even “Plan 9 From Outer Space” bad, it’s just “I wish I would have taken my own advice and stopped watching 2 minutes into the movie” bad.

Don’t do it to yourself. This movie is not worth the time.

If you choose to ignore my sage wisdom on this, I’d love to laugh at your justification for actually watching it all the way through. Please, do tell…

12 Monkeys Rocks

I have to say that 12 Monkeys is one of my all-time favorite films.

Yes, I know the subject matter is a tad on the macabre side; definitely not a movie for the kiddies but 12 Monkeys really has it all.  It’s science fiction, drama, futuristic, comedy, and global climate propaganda all wrapped up in one.

I could watch Brad Pitt rattle those cages in the psych ward all day long and his litany on consumer spending is simply outrageous. Brad Pitt plays his part of mental hospital tour guide to perfection. “Wackos everywhere. Plague of madness.” Who thinks this stuff up?

The story opens in the wintry wasteland of the year 2035, where a virulent plague has forced humans to live in a squalid, oppressively regimented underground.

Bruce Willis plays a societal outcast who is given the opportunity to erase his criminal record by “volunteering” to time-travel into the past to obtain a pure sample of the deadly virus that will help future scientists to develop a cure.

But in bouncing from 1918 to the early and mid-1990s, he undergoes an ordeal that forces him to question his own perceptions of reality. Caught between the dangers of the past and the devastation of the future, he encounters a psychiatrist who is initially convinced he’s insane, and a wacky mental patient with links to a radical group that may have unleashed the deadly virus. Equal parts mystery, tragedy, psychological thriller, and apocalyptic drama, 12 Monkeys ranks as one of the best science fiction films of the ’90s

This is a must see movie. Just be sure to wait until the kids are in bed.

The Children of Huang Shi

The Children of Huang Shi is based on a true story about the life of a young Englishman George Hogg, portrayed by Rhys Meyers.

Set in war-ravaged China during the late 1930s, Hogg, leds sixty orphaned boys on a journey across the Liu Pan Shan mountains to safety on the edge of the Mongolian desert. The 700 mile hike took months to complete; a harrowing journey for grown men, let alone young boys.

The Children of the Silk Road (Huang Shi) is an absolutely heartbreaking movie. It’s hard to imagine the conditions these children were forced to endure. The end of the movie was touching, in that it gave voice to these boys as adults, their dialog is quite moving. The film is slow to develop in places, which is to be expected when a movie is based in fact, rather than fiction.

This movie has inspired me to learn more about this time period in history.

Amazon posted this review:The Children of Huang Shi is a powerful, inspiring film about a real-life, outsider hero who emerged from Japan’s catastrophic invasion of China in 1937. A British journalist, George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) sneaks into Nanjing at the height of Japan’s destruction of that cosmopolitan city.

Rescued from certain death by a suave rebel named Chen Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat), Hogg goes deep into China’s countryside in search of another front to the war. Instead of furthering his career, however, Hogg is talked into taking control of a destitute orphanage occupied by starving, lice-ridden, half-savage boys.

A roving nurse, Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), keeps Hogg focused on his task, provides him with medical supplies, and ultimately becomes his lover. But the former reporter has to figure many things out on his own, including how to inspire the boys to help fend for themselves.

With the Japanese closing in on the orphanage and the Chinese looking at the boys as likely soldiers, Hogg, Pearson, and Hansheng lead the kids on an extraordinarily strenuous, 700-mile hike to Marco Polo’s so-called Silk Road, leading to the Gobi Desert. The second half of The Children of Huang Shi is taken up by this sometimes deadly labor, and director Roger Spottiswoode balances the dreariness of it with knockout images of mountains and eerie, desert vistas.

The multi-national cast is the best thing about the film, which avoids canonizing the saintly Hogg by not ignoring his sins of pride (he refers to the kids as “my boys” to the wrong Chinese authority, and pays the price) and jealousy. Chow’s jaunty persona adds an essential swagger to this Schindler’s List-like story, but it’s Mitchell’s gritty, soul-weary performance that really grabs one’s attention. —Tom Keogh